Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
Reading V Arsenal
Saturday 18th April. 5:20PM. BBC One
Just four teams remain in this year’s FA Cup and this weekend’s semi-final action commences with an intriguing battle involving defending champions Arsenal.
The holders will be firm favourites as they take on Championship side Reading but fans only need to cast their minds back to last year’s last four clash against Wigan to realise that nothing at Wembley can be taken for granted.
It’ll be another fantastic occasion for both sets of supporters and we’re hoping the two teams live up to the billing. Game on!
Reading Aim For Royal Shock
As far as matters in the Championship are concerned, it has been a very testing campaign for Reading. However, Steve Clarke has done an effective job since taking over in December and this FA Cup running is a glowing testimony to that success.
The Royals will be under no illusion and know this will be an incredibly difficult task, but they’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. Whilst they are no match for Arsenal’s star-studded squad, the underdogs do boast some talented players of their own and could , with a decent start, frustrate the holders for long periods.
Reading aren’t in great form, which is a worry, but strange things happen in the cup and the likes of Jamie Mackie and Simon Cox will be dreaming of becoming the hero.
The main thing for the underdogs is that they make a good account of themselves. Nobody can ask more than 100% effort from the players. Still, anything can happen in 90 minutes and the Royals army will be praying for their dream to continue.
You just never know.
In-Form Gunners Out To Underline Quality
Arsenal finally ended their agonising nine-year trophy drought by winning this trophy last year and Wenger will be eager to see his men retain it this term, especially after their heroic quarter-final display at Old Trafford. However, the Gunners must not get complacent as they look for a 11th consecutive domestic triumph.
On paper, the Premier League giants should be coasting this game but it isn’t always easy, as they found out by being taken to penalties in last year’s semi against Wigan before suffering a massive scare against Hull in the final. Arsenal will have learnt from those experiences, however, and should be in a much stronger frame of mind this time around.
With Oliver Giroud, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey all playing scintillating football, the Gunners should have more than enough firepower to blow the Royals away. Playing first on a good Wembley surface will also benefit the passing style of Arsenal too and we should expect to see a lot of play occur in Reading’s half.
Arsenal will be confident about getting their hands back on the famous trophy and will be fully expected to prevail against inferior opposition. There could be a few spanners thrown into the works, but it should be their name in the final.
Still cup semi-finals are weird encounters so perhaps we should expect the unexpected. Arsenal are in a fantastic frame of mind right now, though, and it would be a massive upset if they don’t advance.
Reading V Arsenal Betting
Unsurprisingly, the Premier League giants enter this clash as the overwhelming favourites and are priced just ¼ to win the game in 90 minutes with Bet365. Meanwhile, a shock Reading can be backed at 11/1 whilst you can also get 5/1 on the match heading to extra-time.
Clarke’s underdogs will be desperate to avoid conceding an early goal as that could potentially open the floodgates for a rout. We’d expect to see the Royals employ a very conservative philosophy early on. However, we can’t see them keeping the Gunners at bay for an entire match.
Arsenal will probably be content with dictating the play and sitting patiently to find the breakthrough. Once it comes, though, there should be no turning back for Wenger’s men. With this in mind, we think the chances of second-half goals is much greater than the first.
Highest Scoring Half: 2nd @ 11/10 with BetVictor
It’s very difficult to see past anything other than an Arsenal triumph in this one and we’re very confident that the North Londoners will book their second successive FA Cup final appearance.
The large playing surface at Wembley could also help the Gunners as they look to control proceedings and there’s a good chance they’ll cruise past their Championship opponents. We think 17/2 is a very decent price for a 3-0 win.
Arsenal to win 3-0 @ 17/2 with BetVictor